The Turquoise Lake Mountain Bike Guide - Buena Vista, Colorado

Turquoise Lake Loop

Published with permission from the guide book: The Local’s Adventure Guide to Singletrack & Tarmac – Mountain Bike Trails and Road Rides in the Upper Arkansas River Valley by Nathan Ward.

  • Featuring 36 Mountain Bike Trails and 18 Road Rides in and around Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado – beginner to expert, town to summit, smooth tarmac to extreme singletrack.
  • Maps and Elevation Profiles for each ride, including altitude gain and loss.
  • Local Advice on riding areas and seasons, where to sleep, where to soak, where to find the best pizza, the best coffee and the best bars in Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado.

The Turquoise Lake Loop is half road ride and half singletrack. It circles a high alpine reservoir with excellent views of the lake and surrounding peaks. The singletrack presents some tricky bits and beginners will need to walk sections. The western part of trail is much more technical than the rest. The Turquoise Lake loop is a good training ride or introduction to singletrack riding.

Trailhead Access: Drive 3.5 miles south of Leadville on US 24 and turn right (west) on CO 300. Cross the railroad tracks and drive 0.5 mile. Turn right (north) on CR 5 immediately after the bridge over the Arkansas River. Continue 1.9 miles and turn left at a strange 3-way intersection – look for the sign pointing to Turquoise Lake. Drive 1.3 miles and turn right, following the sign to the Matchless Boat Ramp and Maid of Erin Picnic Ground. Continue 0.4 miles past the Maid of Erin and turn left to the Matchless Boat ramp, before the Silver Dollar Campground. Continue downhill and take the second right into the parking area closest to the water. This is a fee area, read the regulations on the sign board. There are restrooms and drinking water here.

Location: West of Leadville
Distance: 12.9 mile – loop
Riding Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Riding Surface in Miles: Paved 7.1, Singletrack 5.8
Aerobic Level: Moderate – altitude
Technical Difficulty: Novice/Intermediate – short technical sections on singletrack
Elevation in Feet: Low Point 9,846; High Point 10,217; Climbs/Descends 786
Land Status: USFS
Maps: Leadville North, Homestake Reservoir
Options: Skip the paved section and ride the singletrack out and back.

Turquoise Lake Loop Mileage Log

0.0 From the parking lot closest to the water, ride toward the restrooms and cross the road to the right of the building. Look for a wooden Turquoise Lake Trail sign. Ride the singletrack around the lake clockwise.
0.5 The trail splits. Take the right hand trail along the shoreline.
0.6 T-intersection with paved road. Turn right on CR/FSR 105 and ride across the Sugarloaf Dam. Look south for a great view of the Collegiate Peaks. Stay on pavement.
2.8 Mining remnants on the left side of the road.
4.1 The road forks. Stay on the right hand paved road downhill.
5.6 Turn right, following the sign to the Charles H. Boustead Tunnel. The tunnel is to the right. It’s worth a look. Ride around the roundabout and back to the main road.
6.0 Turn right on CR 105.
6.3 Turn right into the May Queen Campground, through a large fence.
6.8 The road splits. Take the left road. There are bathrooms here.
7.1 As the road ends and circles back, look for the Turquoise Lake Trail marker at the far end of the roundabout. Turn right on the singletrack. Lots of people hike this trail so be aware and share the trail.
7.9 The trail splits just beyond the mine tailings. Take the left trail.
11.3 Cross a paved boat ramp and continue on the singletrack.
12.0 Ride through the campground – watch out for campers.
12.6 Cross a wide trail and continue on the singletrack.
12.9 Enter the car park where you started. Yee ha! Do another lap!


We want you to have a safe and enjoyable trip into Colorado’s backcountry. Be prepared it could be a long walk out. Be sure to read this list of equipment you should bring on your ride along with tips to make your biking trip more enjoyable.


The Colorado backcountry is popular – bikers, hikers, motorcycle riders, hunters and equestrians use the trail system in the Arkansas Valley, and everyone wants a private piece of heaven. Even if you don’t agree with everyone’s motives or methods of travel, please treat them in a courteous manner.


If you require search and rescue services, it can be costly. Buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (CORSAR) card to protect yourself. Funds from the CORSAR program go into the Colorado Search and Rescue (SAR) Fund. If a CORSAR card holder becomes lost or injured in the backcountry, the Colorado SAR Fund pays eligible search and rescue expenses.




Bicycle riding is a physically strenuous activity with many risks and dangers. Hazards, natural or man made, whether noted in this book or not, can be encountered at any time under any situation. As a cyclist, we assume you know your personal abilities and limitations. This book represents nothing more than a guide to the trails and roads and is not meant to replace your common sense, your ability to navigate in the wilderness or in traffic, or your ability to ride a bicycle safely.

In addition, the mileages and routes listed in this text are only suggestions. There may be variances and you may get lost. We recommend everyone uses a GPS and topographical map to navigate. Most routes in this text are located on public land, but some trails pass through or adjacent to private land. Respect the land owner’s rights and obey all signs regarding trail use. The same goes for wilderness areas which prohibit mountain bike riding. Neither the author, nor the publisher, nor anyone else mentioned in this book are responsible or liable in any way for any accident, injury or any action brought against anyone traveling any route listed in this book. All cyclists and their companions assume responsibility for themselves. Ride at your own risk.

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